The Kent Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee met today (Tuesday 21 May) for a further discussion on the decision to establish three hyper acute stroke units for Kent and Medway. The decision was made on 14 February 2019, by doctors from Kent, Medway, East Sussex and Bexley.

Rachel Jones, Director for the Kent and Medway Stroke Review said: “We are pleased that the HOSC voted to support the decision by local doctors to establish hyper acute stroke units at Maidstone, Darent Valley and William Harvey hospitals. These units will improve care and outcomes for people who have had a stroke, and we believe we will save an additional life every fortnight as a result.

“We are naturally disappointed not all councillors felt able to give their support to plans we have set out. We believe we have followed a robust and valid process and that our plans are based on the best evidence about what works to improve care for patients who experience a stroke. Currently, despite the tireless hard work and commitment of our staff, some of our local stroke services are among the poorest in the country. Combining our staff and resources into three hyper acute units, able to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will allow us to deliver excellent care to stroke patients.

“I would like to thank the Committee for the highly valuable support and challenge they have provided throughout this process. Their insights, questions and the views they have shared from local people, have helped to ensure our plans are robust and well thought through. We will continue to work with the HOSC over the coming months to respond to the further issues they raised today, and to continue to seek their views on our implementation plans as they develop.

“The decision to establish three hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway is supported by local, regional and national specialists, including the four hospital trusts and the senior stroke consultants in Kent and Medway. These specialists agree there is overwhelming evidence to show that the current under-performance of stroke services in Kent and Medway means more people are dying than would be expected, and people are being left with avoidable disability. This is wholly unacceptable and must change as a matter of urgency.

“While undertaking the review of urgent stroke services, the NHS in Kent and Medway considered the health and wellbeing of the entire population who use them. Factors taken into account included population growth, deprivation, travel times to potential hyper acute stroke units, and impact on specialist stroke staff.

“It is our very carefully considered view that the option approved – for hyper acute stroke units at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Maidstone Hospital, and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford – is the one that will best deliver the necessary improvements to care for stroke patients.”